Christian evangelist and apologist Ravi Zacharias was buried last Thursday, May 21st, during a private graveside service, and he was laid to rest in a casket built by Louisiana State Penitentiary inmates, according to Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM).
Zacharias, 74, passed away on May 19th from a rare and aggressive form of cancer in his spine.
Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola Prison is the state's only maximum-security prison. The inmates built the coffin for Ravi after his request to be buried in it years ago.
"These prisoners know that this world is not their home," Ravi wrote in his latest book, Seeing Jesus from the East, "and that no coffin could ever be their final destination. Jesus assured us of that. Such is the gospel story."
According to RZIM, Ravi was inspired by his friend, the late Chuck Colson, to make a trip to Angola Prison and he visited a few times over the years.
During his last visit on June 8, 2019, he said the Gospel was evident from even the darkest quarters in that prison.
"In the ante room to the execution room is where the sentenced man has his last meal. A prisoner has painted two paintings that grace the wall there. One is Daniel in the Lion's Den, meaning, 'God might still rescue you.' Next to that is another one: Elijah going up on chariots of fire. One way or the other, God will be there for you," he shared on Facebook.
"Even in a dark place, the Gospel is shining with grace and power, he continued. "That is the only hope for the world because we are all prisoners of sin, and only the cross has the answer and the freedom."
Evangelist Billy Graham, who died in February 2018, was buried in a similar casket built by Angola prisoners.
At the time, his son, evangelist Franklin Graham, shared a detailed video on how his casket was built by a convicted murderer known as Richard "Grasshopper" Liggett.
Many people have asked me about my father's casket. In this short video, my son Roy shares the story and we have footage of the casket being handmade by a convicted murderer named "Grasshopper" at Angola Prison in Louisiana. pic.twitter.com/DPyU0Yz4QC
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) March 1, 2018
A memorial service will be held today, Friday, May 29 to celebrate the life and legacy of Zacharias.
Christian leaders and artists will pay tribute to him, including RZIM President Michael Ramsden, Tim Tebow, Brooklyn Tabernacle Senior Pastor Jim Cymbala, Passion City Church Pastor Louie Giglio, Matt Redman, and Lecrae.
The memorial service will air at 11:00 am Eastern on Friday, May 29 on the CBN News Channel, which is available on this website, the CBN News YouTube channel and CBN News APP.